It’s interesting to rehearse without playing the beginnings of any of the pieces your ensemble is working on.  This is counter-intuitive for most people, but it opens up the group to thinking about their music in a new way.  Just because the default mode of musicians is to start at the beginning doesn’t mean that starting at the beginning is the best plan!

The real secret to efficient rehearsing is to go through the music section by section.  Very few groups do this as a normal part of their rehearsing.  But, this is a crucial process if you are to have successful performances.

Daniel Levitin, in his extraordinary book This Is Your Brain on Music, writes, “Most musicians cannot start playing a piece of music they know at any arbitrary location; musicians learn music according to a hierarchical phrase structure.  Groups of notes form units of practice, these smaller units are combined into larger units, and ultimately into phrases; phrases are combined into structures such as verses and choruses or movements, and ultimately everything is strung together as a musical piece.”

Many musicians have an understanding of this process but still do not run their rehearsals using the principle of putting together sections.  A lot of rehearsals are simply run-throughs of the music.  When learning a piece, starting at the beginning of a song and playing it through to the end is no more useful for a group in rehearsal than it is for a solo musician in the practice room.

Instead, the trick is to run sections of a piece and work out any of the kinks that exist for each section.  Then, rehearse the transitions between the sections.  Only when this process is complete does it make sense to run an entire piece–though going through the whole piece is probably not that important at the first rehearsal if the group will be getting together for multiple rehearsals.

Try this technique at your next rehearsal.  Make each section perfect.  Then, make the transitions perfect.  Finally, string together multiple sections and play through them.

One Response to “The Secret of Efficient Rehearsals”  

  1. 1 33 Music Practice Links 31st July 2010How To Practice | How To Practice

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